A 2014 picture of the KrishnaRam bungalow under renovation
This Ganeshotsav, Bollywood actor Rani Mukerji can expect a house visit from the BMC, but they won't come bearing sweets. Instead, they will come with the police, up in arms after they were turned away. Last week, they tried to inspect her Juhu bungalow, KrishnaRam, over allegations of illegal alterations.
mid-day visited the Juhu building and found it covered up. Pic/Nimesh Dave
BMC officials intend to pay another visit to Mukerji's bungalow in Juhu's Vasanta Theosophical Society on August 30, this time with police protection, said sources.
"The K-west ward office got complaints from activists regarding alleged construction work being carried out illegally, in violation of the approved plans that were submitted to BMC's Building Proposal Department. On receiving the complaint, we issued a notice to the owner and paid a visit but were not allowed to inspect the premises," said a civic official.
Prashant Gaikwad, the assistant civic commissioner of K-west ward, confirmed: "We issued a notice a week ago, under section 488 of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, which allows BMC to enter a building or land for inspection."
What BMC records show
According to BMC records available on the AutoDCR website, Mukerji was granted a commencement certificate (CC) to make additions and alterations to KrishnaRam bungalow in 2014, with validity until November 2015 (mid-day has a copy of the AutoDCR records).
Activists have alleged that even though the CC expired, work continues at the premises. The bungalow is a ground+1 structure with a basement, and activists have alleged that its height has been raised in violation of the plans approved by civic authorities.
However, Mukerji's spokesperson has said that the CC has been revalidated every year, and the height of the bungalow is as per the approved plans.
Nikitesh Chaubal, activist and chairman of Aamhi Jagrut Mumbaikar, who had complained to BMC about irregularities at the bungalow, said, "The CC was taken from BMC in 2014 and expired in 2015, but construction work is still going on. No re-validation process has taken place."
He added, "The bungalow also falls in the Coastal Regulation Zone, but a no-objection certificate from the coastal authorities was not submitted to the BMC."
Another activist, Ganesh Kusumulu, said, "This area is a proposed heritage precinct, and in spite of that, gross violations are taking place. The height of the bungalow has been increased and construction has been going for the past three years. Despite bringing it to the notice of the BMC, no action has been taken. We fear that the BMC officials are hand-in-glove with the culprits."
Related photo story - Photos: When BMC slapped Bollywood celebs with legal notices
The other side
Rani Mukerji's spokesperson said, "At the outset, I wish to state Ms Mukerji is an upstanding citizen of the country and the allegations of illegal construction occurring at her bungalow are completely baseless. Yes, the commencement certificate was taken first in 2014, it has been revalidated every year, and BMC can confirm the same. The height of the bungalow is as per the approved plans submitted to the building department while obtaining the commencement certificate. Lastly, the notice under section 488 received from K-west ward on July 3 was replied to on July 4. I trust this puts any ambiguity regarding the construction of the property to rest. The BMC has been extremely professional in all matters."
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